Why is myopia (shortsightedness) in children becoming more common, and what can be done to treat it? The experts from Boots Opticians explain
What are the causes of myopia?
Myopia usually occurs when the eyeball grows slightly too long – so each time light enters the eye, it’s focused before it reaches the retina, meaning the eyes can’t create a clear image of objects in the distance.
Myopia can also be caused by the cornea (the clear layer at the front of the eye) being too curved or if the lens within the eye is too round, again causing the light rays to fall in front of the retina.
It’s not uncommon for myopia to run in families, with children having a 31% chance of developing myopia if one parent is myopic and rising to 46% if both parents are.
Why does myopia appear to be becoming more common?
It is not clear why myopia occurs, but it is thought that it can be made worse by focusing on nearby objects, such as books or computer screens, for prolonged periods during childhood.
The increase in children using computer screens for learning at home during the recent coronavirus pandemic could also be a contributing factor.
What are the signs of myopia in children?
Signs that your child may have myopia include:
- Difficulty reading words from a distance, such as a school whiteboard
- Sitting closer to the TV or computer than usual, or holding a mobile phone or tablet close to their face
- Complaining of regular headaches
- Rubbing or squinting their eyes a lot
- Fatigue, in some cases
Are there any preventative measures that can be taken against myopia?
Myopia can progress rapidly in children so early detection and treatment is key. It’s important to get your child’s eyes tested regularly, at least every 2 years or as instructed by your Optometrist.
Although there’s no cure for myopia, it can be treated with corrective glasses or contact lenses.
Other things you can do to help include:
- Spending plenty of time outdoors – it is recommended that children get around two hours of outdoor exposure per day
- Limiting screen time where possible and taking regular breaks from focusing on near objects
What are the developmental implications of myopia in children?
The majority of what children learn is presented to them visually to it’s really important that myopia is detected early so that children can be given the appropriate correction to help them to see clearly.
At what age should children start having eye examinations?
It is recommended that children have their eyes tested regularly, at least every 2 years, from the age of three and before starting school.
Children are entitled to free NHS eye tests up until the age of 16, or for those up to 19 and in full-time education.
What does an eye examination consist of?
An eye test will be able to tell you:
• How well your child can see
• How healthy their eyes are
• If there are any problems with your child’s vision
How can Boots Opticians manage myopia in children?
Although there’s no cure for myopia, Boots Opticians offer a variety of solutions to help correct and slow down the progression of myopia in children, including MiSight® contact lenses and Essilor® Stellest® glasses lenses.
They work by changing the way light rays bend into the eyes and help to reduce the signal that’s telling the eye to grow too long, resulting in slowing down the progression of myopia. Find out more at boots.com/myopia
What’s the story behind Boots Opticians?
Boots Opticians is one of the leading optical chains in the UK with 543 stores across the UK. Its vision is to be the UK’s most trusted optician, unrivalled in experience, choice and value through helping everyone to See What’s Possible™
Where can I find out more about Boots Opticians?
To find out more about Boots Opticians and to book an eye test visit bootsopticians.com